George Speranza, the operator of a marketing company that created and published Internet websites, pleaded guilty on Friday in a Brooklyn federal court to a perjury charge and admitted that he gave false testimony before the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in connection with the SEC’s investigation of Spongetech Delivery Systems, Inc. When sentenced by United States District Judge Dora L. Irizarry, Speranza faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
The guilty plea was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
As alleged in a superseding indictment and other court filings by the government, between approximately January 2007 and May 2010, the chief officers of Spongetech, together with others, executed a fraudulent scheme to (a) publicly report false and materially overstated sales figures to create artificial demand for, and increase the share price and trading volume of, Spongetech common stock; (b) issue restricted Spongetech common stock to entities controlled by Spongetech; (c) un-restrict and sell that stock; and (d) personally profit from the stock sales.
In 2009, the SEC commenced an investigation into Spongetech’s publicly reported sales figures and financial statements and as part of that investigation issued a subpoena to Speranza. Speranza appeared before an officer of the SEC and, in response to questions, lied under oath about aspects of work he performed for Spongetech as they related to creating websites and establishing virtual offices for purported customers of Spongetech. Specifically, Speranza lied about when he initially discussed creating the websites for Spongetech, and who at Spongetech asked him to establish the websites and virtual offices.
“It is essential that the SEC have accurate and complete information about publicly traded companies so that it can carry out its mission to protect investors from fraud,” stated United States Attorney Lynch. “This office will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who knowingly give false testimony to the SEC.” Ms. Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Securities and Exchange Commission for their assistance in this case.
The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys William E. Schaeffer and Jeffrey A. Goldberg.